tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN June 5, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT
. our festival coverage is followed by the new york times book review. on sunday, we covered continue -- we continue our coverage of the book festival. he will take phone calls and questions from the audience. festival speakers include scott simon and norman mailer. on american history tv on c-span3, join us for several featured programs on sunday, beginning at 4 p.m. eastern on real america -- reel america. at 4:30 p.m., world war ii photographer on his expanse
capturing -- experience capturing the war. at 6:30, veteran journalist bob schieffer, peter arnett, and david kennerly discuss their vietnam war experiences at the opening of the museum -- museum --newseum's reporting vietnam exhibit. get our complete schedule at www.c-span.org. >> now more from the recent milken institute global conference with three former treasury secretary's discussing the u.s. economic outlook and the global economy. you will hear from robert rubin henry paulson, and timothy geithner. this is just over an hour. >> let's start our luncheon panel on the global economy. we are delighted and honored to have a truly exceptional moderator for this wonderful group of former u.s. treasury
secretary's. sheryl sandberg, the chief operating officer of facebook, founder of an organization committed to helping women achieve their ambitions, the author of the best seller with their will to lead and before her role in facebook, cheryl was the vice president of global sales and operations at google. we are delighted to have her, our panelists, and you are in for a very enjoyable hour, so here they are. cheryl, it is all yours. [applause] sheryl: i am delighted to be here and still i do have a chance to moderate this panel of three extraordinary man. there are so many wonderful things to say about all three of them professionally and personally, but there is one surprising thing about them which is they are not on facebook.
[laughter] and so i have taken the liberty helping them today, and it is my way of introduction. i hope. >> no product placement. sandberg: here we go. our first analyst today is bob rubin. he was the 70th secretary of the treasury who served under president clinton and the first nec director of the country. before that, he was cochairman of goldman sachs and now he served as cochairman of the council on foreign relations and one of the founders of hamilton project. please let me in joining bob. [laughter] you can see how great this would be for them, right? hank paulson, 74th secretary of the united states treasury and served under president bush. before that, ceo of goldman and sachs. he now chairs the paulson institute at the university of
chicago which is a think and do tank, i like that which and he has a new book called "dealing with china," which hit number three on the new york times bestseller list. [applause] our third, tim geithner, the 75th secretary of the u.s. treasury served under president obama. you heard it here, folks, he never actually worked at goldman sachs. he never did. people think he did but this may be why. bob has some views on why and he may choose to share them later. he was ceo of the new york federal reserve bank and before that, he was a civil servant, a career civil servant at treasury, and he is now president of warburg pincus. please join me in welcoming our panelists.
so we are sitting here with three of the most experience economic minds and decision makers. that is a great honor for all of us. we might as well start with economic outlook. i think it is fair to say that so far, 2015 may not be as promising as we might have hoped for growth, certainly outlook at the end of 2014. looks like it might be a little more optimistic. so, let's start, are we slowing down? or has the current president and u.s. fed says, do we not know? rubin: i think if you go back for or five months ago, the consensus was something like 3% growth. the last couple of months, most businesses feel there has been some softening. but i do not agree with the way you framed this, with all due respect. sandberg: please. rubin: what we have is the continuation of a gradual slow and steady recovery. i think the unemployment rate is probably substantially in excess of the official unemployment rate. we have stagnant wages. that is the issue. there is one other thing i will
say. i think there is a substantial tail risk. i am on the council of foreign relations. people talk about geopolitical risks, but i think they feel deeply threatened. it is not the market. we all know there has been a tremendous amount of reaching for you, and that question is has it created excesses or not? i do not know whether it has that is a possibility, another tail risk. i think the most likely outcome is a continuation of a gradual slow recovery. sandberg: hank, are we getting better, getting worse? paulson: i agree. i think it has been more or less bumping around 2%, plus or minus. i happen to think that global slowdown, the slowdown in investment, strengthening dollar probably provide more of a headwind then we get from the decline in oil prices.
but again, i would echo what bob says. i think there are some significant risks. but the good news is, we have been more or less growing since the third quarter of 2009. we are in a bright spot in the global economy. housing prices are rising. we are not growing fast enough, and too many people are getting left behind. sandberg: tim, economic outlook? geithner: it is worth noting that none of us really know anything about the future, and we certainly do not know anything about how economies perform in this quirk term over the long run. we live in a messy, dark, scary, uncertain world. but i think the economy is -- [laughter] sandberg: but that said -- was that a scary, uncertain world? geithner: that is the normal state of mankind. it is sad to admit, but it is true.
but i think in that context, the u.s. is gradually getting -- sandberg: slightly less dark and scary. geithner: we are a resilient country. and i think a much stronger country than any other major economy. and if you look at the challenges we face as a country, they are pretty stark challenges, and our politics are terrible. but i think you would rather have our challenges than the challenges that any developed economy, and i think any major emerging economy around the world. sandberg: when you think about where we are -- where was it, messy, scary, dark? or a continuation of slow economic growth since 2009. how do you think of job creation? do you feel that our community
continues to create jobs at the rate it can? is there something we should do to jumpstart it, make it less stark and scary, messy? geithner: we are creating jobs and getting closer to the point -- i think bob is right. not the point where we are fully using the tremendous human capital of this country. but we are getting closer. i think we needed a longer period of growth above potential for that to happen. we are still growing fast enough, even at this moderate pace, to gradually bring all those talented people back to the labor force, where they can be used more productively. sandberg: you think we are on the right track? geithner: i do not want to say that. you never want to look too optimistic. sandberg: don't worry. [laughter] sandberg: raise your hand if you are worried tim is too optimistic. go ahead. anyone? you are safe. keep going. pessimism covered. [laughter] geithner: and of course, there is a lot of things we could be doing. of course there is. can we say we are outputting at the frontier of what is possible in terms of politics? -- in terms of policy? no one believes that. we are operating so far toward the frontier in terms of public policy that marginal improvements in closing that gap would have really high returns.
sandberg: job creation, are we doing enough? will this slow and steady recovery give us enough job creation, or something else? paulson: no, it won't. i feel very strongly we're not growing fast enough. the income disparity is a huge issue. and i think that the only solution to this -- there is no easy solution -- are fundamental changes. that the world is changing quicker than our policies are changing. and we need the kinds of policies that will let us have a competitive economy going forward. i agree with tim that we are a bright spot, and we have got list challenges than any other major country. but as i look at the secular changes i see, and look at what is happening as a result of the digital revolution in technology, globalization, i think we need fundamentally different policies to grow quicker.
we need a new tax system. we need entitlement reform. we need immigration reform. these are not easy things. but it is going to take our political system working better. so on the one hand, i am pleased with where we are now compared to where we were. but the kinds of changes i think we need to drive us forward are going to take fundamental reform. sandberg: job creation. rubin: i guess i would say three things. when ms., my first comment -- i think the unemployment rate will be substantially in excess of the official rate. i agree with something hank said. if we had effective policy today, i think it could make a very substantial difference in the short run and is critical in the long run.
this is, in my opinion, the fundamental challenge to the future of our country. that is, reestablishing effective government. congress is totally unwilling to compromise across political and policy divides, and that is the only way this can work. not looking at the moment, but looking over time, i think the world you are part of, the world of new technologies, artificial intelligence, and the rest of this creates real questions about what pressures will be on wages. on one hand, there is tremendously constructive force in productivity and growth. on the other hand, it may turn out to be highly labor displacing with respect to conventional middle income jobs. we could have a whole section on how one response to that from a political point of view, but i think it is a's areas -- is a serious longer-term issue for the country. sandberg: the state of the country? paulson: income inequality is something we all thought about. i was working on that topic when
i was still at goldman sachs. geithner: in which direction? rubin: you were working on increasing it. [laughter] [applause] geithner: i think cheryl was approaching this. sandberg: i think tim made up for his previous pessimism with humor. we appreciate that. geithner: i was serious. [laughter] paulson: it was a huge issue. we talked with economists and with the current chairman of the economic advisers, kruger, when he was at princeton. my first conversation with the treasury secretary -- my first speech as treasury secretary was on that topic. i'm going to go back to it said. -- back to what bob said. of course, there is big debate in terms of what the driver is. and globalization is a force. but i think what is going on right now with technology and the digital revolution is huge. i think it is the biggest economic trend in the world today, by far.
and i think technology brings with it huge advantages for society overall, but the pace of change is so fast and so violent. and as i look at industry after industry, whether it is engineering, architecture, law business, we see the middle being carved out. anything that can be routinized is being routinized. so it is winner take all. so you have to ask yourself and
say, you know, i have a believe this is progress. you cannot turn back the clock. most of the new technologies i see are really much more about productivity, and i do not see them creating more new jobs than they are illuminating. i am sure there will be some. i think the question is not is this happening? the key question is what do you do about it? i do not have a license to talk about training and education and so on, but i do believe the kinds of economic reforms i was talking about earlier will make a difference and help deal with the problem. basically -- and this is not just a u.s. problem. it is hard to think of a country that does not have it. it is a global problem. and i do not think our democracies are going to work the way we need them to work if we do not deal with it. it is just too easy for politicians to be populist and to look for scapegoats as opposed to dealing with the real problem. sandberg: the issues come together, the dysfunction bob talked about inability to create policy tim mentioned. it is not possible to look at the situation and say, we are not well placed to handle serious economic challenges, technological changes. what is possible to do? if you could pass the right policies, what would they be? and two, what can we do? this is an amazing group of people. a lot of influence in a lot of industries.
what can people do to create the political environment which would get us to the right policies? tim, what are the right policies, and how would we get there? geithner: these are not challenges we are going to solve -- sandberg: in the next 46 minutes? geithner: there is no simple compelling, easy set of things. these are challenges for a generation or more, and they are going to take a long war, in economic policy. i think you need stronger economic growth relative to potential. it is hard to do much on these things without growth. it is very important to recognize in the beginning that fundamentally these outcomes for the low income worker or even the medium worker are hugely dependent on how fast we are able to grow.
and part of this depends on our ability to do a better job as a country at delivering the type of public goods only governments can deliver. education is going to be fundamental to that. and of course we know that that is a complicated, hard thing to do. i would say at the start, you have to recognize that designing policies to try to create more rapid growth -- infrastructure is a good example of things that have high returns in growth and are more employment intensive. and try to focus on basic things that improve our capacity to equip people with the skills and needs to compete in this world. that is a very hard thing to do, but we are not close to the frontier of what is possible. i would focus on those things. sandberg: bob? rubin: i would give you answers to two questions. i think the fundamental challenge for our country is to have an effective government. i am not going to get invited to the next panel if i say what i am about to say. that i think social media plays
an enormous role in public opinion. i think it has become, to some extent, a conductor of ideology and politics, and echo chamber. the converse would be if the social media could find -- if those who had responsibility in social media, whoever they may be -- [laughter] rubin: could find a way to engage the american people in recognizing the must have effective government, whatever your views on issues. and we should insist our elected leaders be committed to governance and to principled compromise to find common ground across divides. i have thought a fair bit about this. i do not know social media. i do not belong to facebook, as you correctly pointed out. i think properly used, it may be a constructive as opposed to undermining role, which it place now. in terms of policy itself, i think the best thing we could do
is it will constructed fiscal policy would increase public investment in the short term and simultaneously enact entitlement reform to put us on a sound financial footing. increased revenues and do immigration reform. education. increase the minimum wage. we need to give workers and even playing field in terms of the rights to decide on collective bargaining. there is a lot you could do that we cannot do without a political system that works. paulson: in terms of the political system, the political system reflect people. our people are very divided. the country is polarized. and i think part of it -- it is not just social media. we get our facts from different places.
people self select with so many different cable channels and so many sources. i think that is a huge problem. but in addition to the policy moves we need to make, and i think we all pretty much agree on the kinds of things, i think there are other things that need to be done. i think people need to understand the act of these -- the facts of these changes. i think even if we take all the policy steps that anyone could deem appropriate, the world is changing. and the sorts of jobs that were available, used to be available are not going to be available in the future. i think that really means people changing some of their expectations, getting different types of training. i think one of the most disturbing things are the number of young people who are not working or are not happy with their jobs today. sandberg: particularly globally. youth unemployment numbers globally are shocking and striking. paulson: it really, really is. i think this is a global problem, and i do not think we are thinking big enough about it. in terms of how to do it. people have done more work. the reason i said i did not want to practice without a license -- i really have not done the work on what kind of universal service would he in the united
-- would be in the united states, or what we could do so that every young person has some kind of training and some kind of follow-up training afterwards. but this is a huge problem, and i think it goes beyond just policy. the world is changing so fast, i think people's expectations need to change, and politicians who are just looking for scapegoats or saying it is the republicans' fault, or democrats, or wall street -- this is an easy issue to demagogue and a hard one to solve. geithner: i want to emphasize one thing i think they both said. this is not really a challenge of a paucity of ideas. it is not as if we are short of good ideas for things that would help. this is all about the craft of governing and how to help the american political system we -- rediscover the capacity for principled, pragmatic compromise, and the ability to actually do things. in our political system, it is
worth remembering that all power to affect the path of the long-term growth of the american economy goes through the congress. we did not invest the chief executive of the united states with vast power to alter these incentives. if you are going to get better choices out of your government you are going to have to raise the expectations you created for them in terms of their ability to do things. and you know that is where we look so appalling and disappointing today. that is about rediscovering the ability to find some room for pragmatic, principled compromise, something we seem to have lost. sandberg: let's follow up on one of the issues you raised, one of the policies which i think everyone thinks is obvious -- entitlement reform, and talk about how. it is impossible to look at the numbers and not decide this country needs to do entitlement reform. you can decide we will do it in advance. you can decide we will wait until the inevitable entitlement crisis happens.
so, how? we are here, we are citizens. how do we hold our congress, our elected members responsible for getting to the pragmatic compromise we know we need? geithner: our system is sort of famously good in extremis, but not so good for the slow burning -- the problem of rust we are accumulating. that is the ability to bring the long-term forward, doing that today. that is our big challenge. but there is no way around it except to try to confront those basic choices and recognize these things are unsustainable and unaffordable, and it will be easier to adjust to that new reality if you start now and do not defer it. sandberg: if you were sitting treasury secretary now or about to become the new one for whoever gets elected, how? paulson: when i came to washington, that was why i
decided to come, to work on entitlement reform. as you know, i got to work on some other things. [laughter] paulson: but it is -- my own view is, it is all about political reform. because if you look at the issues, social security is analytically simple. it is politically complex. even though health care reform is analytically and politically complex, it is not too complex to do something better than we have got now, where there is some fundamental reform. i always thought we would ultimately extend the coverage to the uncovered, the 30 million. it never occurred to me we would do it without getting fundamental reform. so this is -- i really believe that there is some people in -- there is so many people in america today who do not even know what their health care cost
as long as the government is paying it. that is a system, no matter how much you trust regulation, it is really hard to have us deal with those costs. it is all about generational equity and the future of our country. again, i come back to what bob said. it is about making the political system work. it takes leadership. it has to come from the president. it's got a come -- and our country does not deal as well with our political system with as tim said, they, complex, -- big, complex, difficult issues if they are not in immediate crisis. but we will figure out -- we have got to figure out -- rubin: i don't really know how to answer your question. i sort of agree with everything that has been said. and i think it is even more complicated.
because there is not a will -- we'll right now for entitlement reform. in fact, there are many who say we should increase social security benefits. when asked, how would you pay for it, it does not become part of the discussion. i think that, as hank said, if you could reform the health care system in such a way to give us health care as a percentage of gdp comparable to other countries, that would be an enormous savings for the federal government. making the political system work -- i know i am repeating myself area as somebody who runs a -- am repeating myself. we visited somebody and asked him to put up his own money. it was his money, not ours, to see if there was some way to create social media and create an interactivity, so the middle of the country would engage. you have to get people to engage. try to engage people in the issues, in the hopes that if you did that you could get a political environment that would put pressure on politicians so
they would change their calculus and decide it was never in their political interest to engage in compromise and reform. i think that is the fundamental question. sandberg: the political environment we are operating in has huge challenges for policy execution and operation. domestically. i think it is also challenging the u.s. position in the global economic world. it is interesting to talk about that with the increase of the asian infrastructure investment bank. i think when many of us were growing up and in the position the u.s. had in the global economy -- it was kind of unsinkable if you look back a certain number of years, that this got created without the interest of the united states, -- against the wishes of the united states, without the u.s. joining. it was written in the "the u.s. government is so bitterly divided it is on the verge of defeating the economic state it
built at the end of world war ii. the director of india, talking about the u.s., said, it is almost handing over legitimacy to the rising powers, not by intent, but as a result of dysfunction, and lack of resources because of tight budgets and competing financial demands. the u.s. is less able to maintain economic power. and because of political infighting, it has been unable to formally share it either. the question is, what is really happening for the u.s., in terms of maintaining global economic leadership? is it changing, and does this you matter? does the u.s. economic leadership position -- is it changing fundamentally, and will that matter? geithner: at this point, if you talk to people who run businesses or invest around the world, there is a point where there is confidence in the relative position of the american economy today.
i believe that. on the other hand, that exists with deep concern about what our political system has done for the capacity of the u.s. to support things like you referred to. and i think it is important to recognize that with this profound erosion of support in both parties, both the republican party and the democratic party, of the types of institutions globally and the types of international economic policies that were so central to the success of the world in the many decades after world war ii -- with a deep erosion of support for those things, it is hard to play that role. we have nothing like the freedom to maneuver in terms of resources, although we are a rich country, to deploy resources, because congress has to approve that stuff. and the profound erosion of support for trade has made it harder for us to negotiate and deliver these things. i think these things have very real costs. i think a lot of americans look at the world and say, maybe china is a deep threat to our economic interests, our security
interests, or there is some other power that is going to erode our position. it is important to understand we -- for americans to understand we are still a master of our fate in those angst. the biggest risks to our economic outcomes and relative position in the world are about washington, our politics in washington. unless you can relax those constraints and rebuild consensus, we will suffer a damaging and severe erosion in our capacity around the world to be a source of not just stability, but fairness, rules of the game, basic security for people. sheryl sandberg: so it is eroding and it matters? geithner: still in a relative sense, we are still the best it is not beyond the point of no return. we are still the best source of relatively neutral views on how
to make the world better. ideas are not enough. you have to be a source of ideas. the u.s. behind those things will suffer erosion. bama i have one thing. i would rather invest in the united states than any other place in the world. there is the dynamism of our society, the rule of law, the demographics compared to china and europe, and the problem is, now we have all said multiple times, we have to get our policy house in order before we do this. but i think we continue to play a major role in global and geopolitical matters in a long, long time to come, hopefully in partnership with china and not against china. i think the world needs america to be america again. ms. sandberg: why? mr. rubin: there really is
nobody to play the role that the united states has played for many, many decades now. i think we pair -- play fair trading rules and there is a whole host of issues, no one will play the role that the united states can play. ms. sandberg: the role of america, changing? mr. paulson: it is changing, and all of my friends appear, they -- all of my friends appear, as tim said, we are the strongest and the biggest economy in the world, and if i don't see anyone out there -- and i don't see anyone out there who can fix the problems that we can and we have to lead by example. sure, the political system makes a heart for us to do this today, but i think the thing that we need to do is to show leadership
and first, we have to correct . who wants to follow -- we have to be a good example. it starts with what we do at home. secondly showing leadership abroad. take china as an example. china has many more problems. as i have said over and over again, you can make a mistake and overemphasizing china's's strength is just as bad as underestimated their potential -- china's's strength is just as bad as underestimating their potential -- china's strength is
just as bad as underestimating their potential. if we are not looking to do business with the other 96%, we have to focus on the 4%, and i tend to be an optimist. we have to get a transpacific partnership. that would be huge to get that done. we are going to get it done, so it is important to be able to deliver on what we say, and in terms of our economic strength there is plenty that we can do. i will tell you, this is not going to be a world that anyone is wanting to live in if the united states is not going to continue to be a leader economically. again, i just don't think there is a lot that can be done internationally without passing legislation.
to me, this is just being able to look beyond domestic politics because domestic politics never favors geopolitics, it is nervous about foreign investments, but these are very, very beneficial and i think it is going to take strong leadership. anyway, i think we all agree, so we are all talking to ourselves. ms. sandberg: and michael from an, who was bob quast chief of staff. mr. paulson: he is just a bright spot, and he is going in all the time and making progress and
fingers crossed he will get it done, we will get trade promotion authority, and when we get it done, it is amazing how people will start looking at things differently. ms. sandberg: let's go to china, and your book is obviously brand-new, and i have read it it is fantastic. it is incredibly well-written, and congratulations. china is likely to surpass the united states is the world's largest economy. they are the biggest creditor, handling over $1 trillion in american debt, so how do you think america should be approaching the china-u.s. relationship, and what advice do you have for the right kind of relationship with china? mr. paulson: read my book. [laughter]
mr. paulson: china has emerged as a formidable competitor in addition to a partner, as we all know, and the relationship is much more complicated, given that they are more assertive now in foreign policy and given their economic success. it is very much in our interest to find a common interest, and there are many areas where we have a shared interest and we
are not going to make real headway globally unless we find ways to work with china. if we are looking at climate change and environmental issues, for example, i don't know how we solve them, unless we are working with china. if we working complementary ways, economic problems become easier to solve. if you are looking at stability or global stability and peace, denuclearization, this is all accomplished with working with china. as i see the world today, it is more important than ever that we get important, tangible things done. that way the public can see the value of the relationship and we
don't let the competition devolves into a debilitating competition. competition isn't bad, we can thrive with competition. china is using cop petition with their economic and national security ends, and we can do likewise. we need to be strategic with the way that we are dealing with china, so again, i am repeating what both bob and tim has said if we are where we would like to be 20 or 30 years from now, it is not because china will be a threat, it is going to be because we didn't fix our own problems. in terms of our borrowing from china, and that we are a creditor to china, i am asked that question all the time, are you concerned that chinese -- the chinese have so much debt? and my answer is, no, i am concerned that we have so much debt. the chinese are doing what is in their interest. the money they have invested in our debt is a much bigger percentage of their foreign exchange reserves than it is of
our debts. if you are a chinese investor, would you rather own a euro or a yen? give me a break. what we need to do -- what we need to do, is to expand linkages. this is so much for the bilateral investment treaties, because i believe in direct investment, chinese investment in the u.s. create jobs, and there is a very strong linkage between our two countries. i think the bilateral investment treaty will also help chinese reformers opened up big parts of their economy to competition from the private sector and from u.s. companies, which would be good. the last thing i would say, which i think people who have been reading the newspapers know, is that they all know the economic growth in china is slowing. so we know that. so what people have perhaps less focused on is of the fundamental
issues is the model that has worked well for a long time is running out of gas. they have some flawed policies that need to be fixed, they are building up too much municipal debt using investment -- government investment in this municipal debt to drive growth so they need to fix those problems. i think that is going to be very important to them and to all of us, in terms of how they deal with those. ms. sandberg: china, anything to add? too much fear, not enough cooperation? other thoughts? mr. rubin: i think hank has said it reasonably well. [laughter] mr. rubin: probably. probably. mr. geithner: one thing in praise of hank, it is a very
simple thing but in these kind of questions, whether it is china or coming back to the basic craft of governing is that the huge thing that matters is that you are putting yourself in the shoes of your counterpart, trying to look at the world through their eyes and tried to figure out what is important to them, what -- trying to figure out what is important to them, what is important, and i think hank, you demonstrated how high the return is on that kind of investment because you worked so hard to build trust with people who were unlikely to trust you as a capitalist from a goldman sachs. you worked very hard to build that basis of trust, and i think that is fundamental to much of what is necessary. mr. rubin: i would like to add one more thing if i could mention it, hank and i wrote an article that will come out at the end of may in the atlantic -- in "the atlantic" magazine. there is tremendous wariness in china about our country, when in fact, besides the fact that we will have a mutually important relationship, there are all kinds of transnational issues, climate change, terrorism, penn
nationalism -- pan-nationalism but this is probably the best chance that the globe has of dealing with these issues, because of the global sway that these two large economies would have would be greatly increasing the awareness of this country and the must be this -- and i must say the same would be true in china to getting past that fear. ms. sandberg: getting past the fear. mr. paulson: the challenge is we just have to acknowledge is that there are few examples in history of a major, preeminent power and a rising power that ultimately come to conflict. that is not inevitable. as a matter of fact, that is far from inevitable, and i am not predicting it, but it takes work. the choice is policymakers make on both sides is deciding on what cooperation is on how we resolve some of these issues and
how we work on financial rules but also recognizing that they need to have a financial say in this system going forward. this is really, really important. ms. sandberg: so the return to women and the role in the u.s. i will start with a warren buffett quote. we once had to explain to bob that timmy is not warranted's -- warren's son. mr.paulson: i came back in -- mr. rubin: i came back in i saw president clinton and the president looks at me and he says, why doesn't that surprise me? [laughter] ms. sandberg: warren buffett has
famously and generously said that one of the reasons that he was so successful is that he was only competing with half the population. so we know the gender gaps are a drag on our capacity. the imf released a report saying that if women had as much participation in men, u.s. gdp would increase by 5%, japan by 9%, egypt by 11%. those are big numbers. when women cannot reach the highest leadership positions -- and i know how hard this conference has worked to get to 30% -- we are working hard. you know, women can't get there, and we are not being used at productive capacity, so what needs to be done? mr. paulson: could i start out? actually, no, i don't want to start out on this subject somebody else.
mr. rubin: if he had the answer, he would have written a book. mr. geithner: we have to hire more women, we have to promote more women, we have to pay them fairly, it can't be rocket science. ms. sandberg: yes, yes, that is great. yet, very hard to do. we know we need entitlement reform, we know we need equal pay, so what is important for women? mr. paulson: if someone benefited throughout working with my career at the paulson institute, most of the senior people are women, and i thought about it a lot. it is a difficult issue to deal with. the one thing that i saw from my time at goldman sachs and working with a good number of clients is that even if men are
doing their level best and don't believe they are biased in any way, when you are choosing between a couple of leaders, you tend to go gravitate towards the one that has the kind of qualities that you express. my own belief is that what it takes a lot of push from the top down, it takes a from a from the corporate boards, the ceo, the -- and i don't believe -- and in quotas. the man has got to put his finger on the scale, and i am just totally convinced that is what it takes, and it is going to take also policies and programs that recognize that there are differences. there is a huge amount of advantages you will get from having a diversity.
i have thought a lot about leadership, and there is no great leader anywhere that doesn't have great people around him. everybody has strengths and weaknesses. hank is great, hank is discrete, he doesn't think carefully enough before acting. mr. geithner: are you speaking of yourself in the third person? ms. sandberg: he is in the middle of such a good answer we are going to let him have it. mr. paulson: so you have people around you that compensate for your weaknesses, and so if i watched that in women, women have some really different talk -- leadership styles. a huge advantage.
often, if there is a group of men making a decision, they will not make the right decision. i don't like what i read about in europe, but i have to tell you, i think we will be heading in that direction if we are not more proactive. there are huge advantages for driving it. if it were easy, it would have been done a long time ago. ms. sanberg: i think we have to recognize the biases. and also, recognize that it is a competitive advantage. mr. rubin: women in the harvard business school, very few of them went on.
i think i'm an entry-level basis, over time, the pools -- but then, you have the problem when you have kids. a lot of women have not wanted to engage and 10-12 hour per day jobs. the result is that they opt out of the intense full-time activity that can lead to positions of leadership. i think it is a much more complicated question. and i don't know, do you change those norms? childcare is a policy that would help. you can try on ramps and offramp , but i will tell you something. and i could say from the, and have everyone, coughing, if i wanted to. [laughter]
i think it is very complicated. i think it is easy to say these things and very hard to do. i think there is an immense advantage to society, but is far more difficult than we are making out to be. you have cultural issues, legal issues, all kinds of other issues that go beyond what we face. mr. paulson: everything bob says, i agree with that. we have all lived it. what i find goldman sachs, when you have women that want to keep working i think it is very important early on to make sure that they have every advantage and they have the opportunities to keep it. there will be certain jobs and
careers that are harder than others. i think you can move the needle if you do some things earlier on. ms. sanberg: let's talk climate change. bob, you have called it the existential crisis of our time. what steps do we need to take? to think this is cast appropriately as a economic issue? mr. rubin: hank, mike luber, and tom started something called risky business, and we learned that environment of problems can cause catastrophic effects for life on earth as we know it. i think it is a desperate problem, and a lot of people in the room can agree but they have not internalized the degree of the cataclysmic effects that can occur from not dealing with this, and i think what we need
is what hank wrote in his op-ed, i think we need to have restrictions on carbon, and research and pilot problem -- pilot projects and looking into non-carbon-based sources of energy. mr. paulson: bob said it very well. the only thing i would add to that is that we talked about how the governments worked better on problems when there was a crisis. unlike a financial crisis, this is very vicious because it is cumulative. the longer you wait, it takes away your ability to avoid the
worst outcomes. the governments do better if it does on -- if it is done on a national basis is that of a global, but we have time to act and time to avoid the worst outcomes. bob has emphasized something that he did not mention here and when i was talking to republican colleagues, this was something i talked about, and this is very important. part of this is already baked in the cake and we know it is coming, and of course, we are trying to avoid the worst outcomes. bob has pointed out that all of those that are posing a solution are ultimately setting themselves up for the government to have a bigger role and a huge fiscal problem. because what happens is, think about it for a minute, whenever there is a climate related disaster, a forest fire, a drought, a flood, you name it,
it hits one geographical region, one industry particularly hard and the government comes in, and then there is a big cost to that, and there is a big fiscal cost, and we all pay. bob comes out with a very good editorial in the "washington post," and he talks about how it is a big fiscal problem. this is based upon how people are not wanting the government to play a bigger role and not trusting the government. we have business people looking at this and democrats and if you just sit down with communities and talk about this, let's just look at a range of possibilities in terms of economic impact, you meet people in the middle. it proves that normally, groups
that are opposed who say they have a big climate problem, and if you bring it up to the whole community suddenly, they are all ears. mr. geithner: you have to get people to understand that the cost now is much greater. in economic policy, most of the things that are important are going to be deeply unpopular and the capacity to bridge that
is the hardest thing for the political system. ms. sandberg: so the lights are shining, we have five minutes left, so i will ask you for the long answer is, but unfortunately, i have to ask you for the short version. what is the most important thing you learned as a treasury secretary? tim wrote a great book with a lot of things that he learned, also worth reading, so did bob seriously, these are great contributions to the public understanding. mr. geithner: i think i learned that you can't approach these jobs as if you are tasked or you are challenged to optimize within the constraints given. because you can't do much for the economy within the constraints you are given. you have to figure out a way to relax those constraints and you
can't do that without a combination of good ideas and without some capacity to figure out how to bring it together in support of those things, which is about negotiating with governance and governments. ms. sandberg: hank, what did you learn? what is the most important thing? mr. paulson: most people think the treasury secretary is the most powerful politician, but you have the support of the president and you are able to work with congress and foreign governments and regulators, they don't work for you, again, you have to engender their support. one of the things that i learned is that it takes saying the same skill set as a business but a very different mindset. you have to be willing to listen, you have to be willing
to compromise, and there is not a lot of room for ideologues. so it really comes down to people, it is much more people than analytical. mr. rubin: i was just thinking of something i wanted to say and i was trying to consider if i should say it or not. larry summers would say the most important thing is to call and ask him what to do. [laughter] mr. rubin: now, having said that, two things strike me, one is know what you know and know what you don't know, and there is in a norm us learning prospect and secondly, be true to yourself, what ever you think, it is your responsibility to say to the president of the united states, whether he or she agrees with you or not. and the temptation to not do that is enormous. you've got to be true to yourself. ms. sandberg: now we are going to do something called the
lightning round. get ready. mr. geithner: good luck with that. [laughter] mr. rubin: you got the wrong group. mr. geithner: you start with hank and you'll never get to us. [laughter] mr. sandberg: hank, we are going to start with you. one word, one phrase, are you ready? if you could do one change unilaterally, what would it be? mr. paulson: to save our future. mr. geithner: to make our fiscal policy. ms. sandberg: when did the -- when will they change rates? do better.
>> if you ask an english major i will say early next year. >> i think what matters is they do it at the right times and i think it will be very dependent. >> one word. who was her biggest global economic competitor? >> ourselves. >> i agree. >> i concur. >> what will be the number one issue in the 2016 presidential campaign? >> i defer. >> income disparity. >> that is an interesting question. i would say a variant of what hank said but mine is a better version. stagnant wages. >> last book you read. >> i am reading three books right now. the last living unich in china. it is actually a very interesting book. [laughter] >> lightning round. >> oh, ok. [laughter]
>> a book called a pound a of paper. >> last book you read. not your own. >> innovators. >> what is your newest piece of technology? come on. dig deep. any piece of technology. [laughter] >> hank. anything? >> the ipad. >> what was the question? >> what is your newest piece of technology? >> a ballpoint pen. [laughter] >> most important issue people are not talking about. >> i think we vastly under talking about climate change. >> hank.
>> i think -- i will go with climate change. >> we're talking about everything, not doing much. >> are you still walking around the office with your socks on? >> yes because it is comfortable. >> you claim to have started this trend with bob copying you. >> i suspect he was first but i admire that custom. >> any special behavior you want to share? >> only holes in socks. >> i hope you can answer this. iphone or android? bama what -- >> what? [laughter] >> iphone. >> iphone. >> blackberry. [applause] >> most economically literary president?
>> ilene new couple of president, by thing clinton. >> george w. bush. >> and you will say? >> obama or clinton. >> kindle or paper? >> paper. >> kindle. >> news, online or paper? >> mostly online. >> both. >> last question. what do you do to relax? >> relax? flyfishing. >> i do well -- it well. >> he may cast better, but i catch more fish. >> i do that too. i read. >> thank you. [applause]
eulogy. that is expected around noon. then, the president heads to europe for a couple of days to germany. "national journal" writing about that trip. the president lives for what may be the most challenging today's of summitry. he will look for a way to regain initiative on the ongoing battle against terrorism. before he returns on monday night, he will also meet with leaders from iraq and syria, going to germany looking for more help from the white house. and, news from bag dad -- baghdad that saddam hussein's top aide died of a heart attack. he was the highest-ranking christian in the regime. back in washington next week,
the house returns on tuesday to finish up work on the transportation housing spending bill of 2016. also, other spending bills expected next week. the senate is working on a defense authorization bill. the senate is back on monday at 3:00 eastern. follow the senate on c-span2 and the house here on c-span. >> this sunday on c-span's road to the white house, a conversation with former senator and likely presidential candidate, jim webb. he talks about american for policy politics, congress, and why he wants to be president. senator webb: you look anywhere
in the country and ask what you think people are -- and ask them what you think is missing, it is leadership. i have had a blessing in my professional life in that i have been able to spend about half of my time in public service and half of my time doing other things, working for myself as a sole proprietor. i believe very strongly that we need to create a new environment in washington where we have leaders who can talk across the aisle and actually solve problems. >> jim webb, this sunday on "road to the white house 2016" on c-span. >> here are some of our featured programs this weekend on the c-span networks.
reductions -- reduc actions.this is just over three hours. >> the committee on oversite and reform will come to order. with objects, the chair is authorized to call a recess at any time. we appreciate all of you being here for the third panel of this two-day hearing, ensuring agency compliance with the freedom of information act. the president has committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness. that is not the case when it comes to filling foya requests. the backlog of claims has more than doubled since the president took office. march 2014, the associated press reported the obama administration more often than any other administration had
censored government files or outright denied access. the administration used exemption to withhold information more than 550,000 times. agencies must consult with the white house on all document requests that may involve documents with white house equities. just in the last year, the government fully denied access or censored records in at least 250,000 cases or roughly 39% of all requests. this is the highest number of denials in the history of foia. we waited to hear from individuals to get public records they requested. witnesses yesterday told us that the foia system is broken and probably broken by design. in preparing for this hearing, the committee received numerous examples of delays, unreasonable redactions and abuse of fees all of which hindered
transparency. the epa strategically avoided disclosure when discussing a mine in bristol bay alaska. documents obtained by the committee advocated a preemptive veto. the irs contacted one requester, colin hannah on four separate occasions to explain it needed more time to respond to his request. but after two year ss they closed his request. they asserted that he failed to reasonably describes his requested documents. gsa identified 70,000 records as responsive to a foia request. and used the number of records as a reason to close a request from the taxpayer protection alliance. a requester waited ten months before the dea told them that his request for 13,000 documents related to the capture of
mexican drug lord el choppo would cost 1.4 million$1.4 million. one freelance journalist wrote i often describe the handling of my request as the single most disilusing experience of my life. the responses are enlightening and continue to come in they seem to be numerous, bipartisan across the board, insistent and just absolutely frustrating. we also saw unreasonable and inappropriate redactions. they show the fcc blacked out the chairman's initials on every e-mail he sent or received. blacked them out. in doing so, the fcc claimed a personal privacy exemption that isn't permissible for use even with lower level staff.
staff commentary like wow and interesting were deliberative and redacted them under b-5 exemption exemption. the time and expense it takes to go through such silly, silly things is so frustrating and ridiculous. it gets very frustrating here, anybody claims, we spend this exorbitant amount of money, when you're blacking out. interesting, the name one of my favorites, is blacking out the name of the department of defense person who sang the national anthem as if that's some state secret. in one instance, simply quoting an attached press release qualified for a redaction while the press release itself was released in full. it's amazing how many instances we have of publicly available information that is on the department's websites, comes back via foia as redacted.
and a press release? press release that it was publicly released, is something you have to hold back from the public makes no sense. how can we trust the government's examples. despite significant corruption within the agency in recent years, the irs is still obstructing recent years, the -- obstructing taxpayer's efforts, just getting the witness here today required a subpoena. the other four agencies we asked to invite their senior officers, they all agreed, they all showed up. not the irs, no, no, not the irs, we can't have that. only one person can testify, mr. coskin.
how wrong he is. i appreciate you being here, but i should not have to issue a subpoena to get your presence here. udell with this for years. we had to issue a subpoena. when we sent a letter asking for information, anywhere between 2 and 8 different examples we wanted information, department of justice at least they sent us a letter, at least they gave us something. it was terribly incomplete the irs no letter, nothing. we sent a request to you, i sent a subpoena to you. and you give us nothing? these other four did. i'm telling you, we will drag the irs up here, every single week if we have to. you are going to respond to the united states congress. you are going to respond to the american people you work for the american people. you are not just going to drag us around. you know what, if it was the other way around, if the irs went after an individual, you wouldn't put up with it. there's no way you would put up with this.
we expect you to respond to requests from the united states congress. we have a right to see it. we have a constitutional duty to perform our oversight responsibilities. for you to not respond to this committee by giving us an electronic copy, which is what you were supposed to do, which the other four figured out, is not appropriate. we don't have that material, and we wanted it before the hearing, i had to get a subpoena to drag you here, and it's wrong. i've heard personally from multiple foia requesters that they wait and wait and wait. when they finally get a response, the response is either flatly denied or the pages are blacked out. we saw examples of that yesterday. why is this necessary? there are some cases where you do have to redact material. i understand that. i understand that, i appreciate that. but the lack of consistency is just stunning. the time that it takes is just
unbelievable. the department of justice is the foia litigator and the provider of agency wide guidance ought to be the model agency, but we know it is not. the department of justice denied 40% of its fiscal year 2014. 3% of foia requests were denied based on exemptions. 37% were denied for other reasons. 5% were denied on the basis that documents were not reasonably described. dhs is drowning in foia requests and needs to ensure the right resources are put toward properly clearing these backlogged cases. the department of homeland security receives about one third of all foia requests, and is responsible for two thirds of the federal backlog. so it's particularly disappointing to see that dhs foia program, and the gao's duplication report. even the gao has come in and said, this is a terribly mismanaged, ill executed system.
so much so that there's highlights in the the gao's 2015 duplication report. my disappointment grew yesterday when the foia research center revealed to us that dhs hired contractors for the primary purposes of closing rather than completing cases. individuals requesting records from homeland security might hear from contractors multiple times inquiring about whether or not they're still interested in their requests. that always cracks me up, right? citizen, person from the media goes out of their way to put in a foia request, so much time goes by that government comes back to them and says are you still interested? that takes time and resources. the state department is as bad if not worse than dhs on foia compliance. the agency has opened cases dating back for decades, decades.
last year the state department failed to fully respond to more than 65% of its requests. the center for efficiency government graded 15 of the top foia agencies and gave the state department an f on foia processing. the agencies before the committee today need to bring sunshine to their foia programs. the agency leadership has failed to make it a priority. and that makes the job of the witnesses before the committee much more difficult if not impossible. we know you have a tremendous amount of requests coming your direction. there are a lot of good people who work in your departments and agencies and we thank them for , their service. not everything is bad. but it is our role and responsibility to understand how it really works, what you're up against, what you're dealing with in a very candid way. so that we can help make it better. and that we can understand it. and there undoubtedly have to be changes.
my guess is you want to see some changes. we want to see some changes. we want to ferret that out. we've heard from the people who are critical but you're right there on the front lines and you represent hundreds and literally thousands 0 people who are trying to do their jobs and deal with the tensions that come from a political persuasions that have been in both the democrat and republican side of the aisle. you have career professionals that have been there through lots of different organizations. we want to hear candidly from you what is working, what is not working but give us candid information so we can help better understand it. that is all we ask today. we thank you again for your presence and at this time ail now recognize the ranking member, mr. cummings for his opening statement.
representative cummings thank : you, very much, mr. chairman. i thank you for holding these very important hearings on the freedom of information act which is the corner stone of our nation's open government laws. thank you also to our agency witnesses for being with us today. you do have a critical responsibility which is to make federal records available to the american public as effectively and efficiently as possible. you're also charged with implementing the directive president obama issued on his first day in office, to implement a new presumption of openness that reverses the policy of with holding information embraced by the bush administration. your job is also extremely difficult and it's getting harder. you, and by implication, the president are being blamed for the increase in foia backlogs. as we heard at our hearing yesterday, foia backlogs have increased in part as a result of
cuts to sergeancy budgets and the dwindling number of foia personnel forced to process record numbers op incoming requests. but we did not just only hear that. mr.mcgraw of the "the new york times" talked about a culture of unresponsiveness. and i hope that we will get to that and talk about that. because i agree with the chairman. in order to get to the bottom of this, we've got to have an honest assessment of what's going on. there were a number of witnesses that came before us yesterday to talk about a fear of people who are dealing with the foia requests honoring them the way they should be because they're afraid to get in trouble. if that's the case, we need to hear about that. the number -- going back to personnel. the number of foia requests skyrocketed from 2009 to 2014.
in 2009 when president obama took office, there were about 558,000 requests submitted to the federal agencies. by 2014 that number rose to more than 714,000, the surge of 28%. that's quite a surge. on the other hand, the total number of full-time agency foia personnel dropped to its lowest point since president obama took office. in 2009 the number of full-time foia staff at federal agencies was 4,000. in 2014 that number dropped to 3838. a decrease of about 4%. it seems obvious they congress cannot continue to starve federal agencies for resources through budget cuts. staffing reductions, sequestration and shutdowns and
then blame those agencies for not being able to do their jobs effectively. but again i want to go back. i want to not only deal with the personnel issues, but this whole culture that mr. mcgraw talked about of unresponsiveness. i want to deal with that too because i want the total picture so we can be effective and efficient in trying to remedy this situation. if we want foia to work, we need to restore adequate funding, staffing and training so agencies can handle the increasing workloads they will continue to face. that's another issue. is there an issue of training. it's one thing to have personnel. it's another thing to have personnel that are properly trained.
this is not what house republicans are doing right now, today. down the hall in the appropriations committee republicans are voting to withhold nearly $700 million hello, $700 million from the state department's operational budget until it improves its document production processes. the operational budget includes the salaries for all, for all of the state department's foia employees. let me say that again. today with a record number of foia requests and a record low foia staffing, the answer from the republicans is that we withhold two thirds of a billion dollars more than all state department foia staff salaries combined. how in the world is this supposed to help? it simply does not make sense. we know that there are problems with foia. we know there with delays.
we know that we must do better. but it is hard to imagine a more counter productive attack on a foia process. i also take issue with the claims that president obama has not been one of the most aggressive and forward thinking presidents in the history and pressing for more open government. i've often said that he would never get credit for anything. if things go wrong, they blame him. if things go right, he gets to credit. those who try to argue that president bush took the same kinds of transparency actions as president obama must have amnesia. there simply is no comparison. none. beyond ordering the presumption of openness for foia, the obama administration issued a national action plan to establish a consolidated foia portal and enhanced training for foia professionals. president obama did that.
established a foia advisory committee to improve implementation, increase proactive disclosures of government information. president obama did that. the administration implemented a new policy of disclosing white house visitor records. president obama did that. established ethics data.gov which posts lobbying, disclosure reports, travel reports and federal elections commission filings all in one place and it has made enormous amounts of government information available through data.gov. that's right. president obama did that. finally i suspect some of my colleagues will continue their focus on former secretary of state hillary clinton and her e-mail. let's review the facts. on december 5th, 2014, secretary clinton provided more than 30,000, 30,000 e-mail totaling about 55,000 pages to the state department. the department has those e-mail
and is currently reviewing them to make them available to the public under foia. this is a sharp contrast to former secretary of state colin powell, who admitted that he used a personal e-mail account for official business all the time, unlike secretary clinton secretary powell did not, did not preserve any of his official e-mails from his personal account and he did not turn them over to the state department. i'm not naive. i understand the republican focuses on hillary clinton as she runs for president. but if we really want to review compliance with foia, if we really want to review it and straighten it out and make it right and have the law, foia law to do what they're supposed to
do and if we really want to be most effective and efficient, we should not do so selectively by ignoring facts based on political expediency. as i've often said, we're better than that. to include the mother is a major bipartisan step we can take to improve foia now. in february i joined with represent iso, that's what i said, i joined with former chairman, on a bipartisan basis to introduce the foia oversight and implementation act. we passed it out of our committee unanimously. out of this committee. unanimously. several months ago -- and i hope we can move forward in a bipartisan way to pass this bill. now the chairman said yesterday to me that we're going to see what we can do to work that out. and what we need from you is suggestions. sure maybe all of you are familiar with 653. and if there are things that you
think we can do to improve that bill to make it so that it can be more effective and efficient and that you can do your jobs better, then we want to know it. ladies and gentlemen, we can go round and round and round and round in circles and we'll be talking about the same stuff ten years from now and the backlog will be even greater. so i look forward to hearing what you all have to say. give us the good, the bad and the ugly so that we can now effectively address this issue. mr. chairman i thank you for your indulgence. with that i yield back. >> i'll hold the record open for five days for writ statements. let me introduce them. ms. joy ba with is chief foia officer with the defendant of state. ms. barr was confirmed as the assistant secretary for
administration in december of 2011. as assistant secretary she's responsible for the day-to-day administration of a variety of functions ranging from logistics, records management, privacy programs, the working fund and presidential travel. , we appreciate you being here. ms. melanie ann pustay is the director of the office of information policy at the department of justice since 2007, has worked with foia for at least the last 12 years. the office of information policy sometimes we ferd to as oip is responsible for developing guidance for executive branch agencies on the freedom of information act. oip is charged with ensuring that the foia guidance a implemented across the government. before coming director she served eight years as the deputy director oip. ms. karen neuman serves as the chief foia officer within the department of homeland security.
treasury's budget and strategic plans and the internal management of the department and its bureaus. in january 2014 president obama nominated him as the treasury's chief financial officer. ms. mary howard is in charge of the disclosure division. she' served in this role since january of 2014. in this role she's responsible for managing a multifacetted privacy program and ensuring compliance with the privacy act, the freedom of information act and the internal revenue codes known as 6103. ms. howard represents the irs interest in identity theft information protection disclosure and data sharing. ms. howard began her career in 1988 and served in various yous roles throughout the agency and her career. if you would please rise and raise your right hand. the witnesses are to be sworn before they testify. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
truth? thank you. let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the affirmative. as you take your seat, we would ask that you would limit your testimony to five minutes. your full written statement will be made part of the record. and with that we will now start with ms. barr and you're now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman, ranking member cummings and members of the committee. good morning. thank you for the invitation to appear before you today. my name is joyce barr. and i serve as thecy sis tant secretary ff administration as well as chief foia officer for the state department. i am a career foreign service officer with over 35 years of experience serving around the world. thank you for your interest in and advocacy for improving transparency to the public. we shared that goal at the department and work every day to
achieve it. in addition to providing a range of support services around the world, the bureau of administration is also responsible for responding to requests under foia as well as managing and maintaining official department records. the state department is committed to openness. it is critical to ensuring the public trust and to promoting public collaboration with the u.s. government. however, meeting our commitment to openness is very challenging. we have a large backlog of over 16,000 foia requests. we know this backlog is unacceptable. and are working to reduce it. last year we achieved a nearly 23% reduction in our appeals backlog by streamlining case processing. we made progress. more is needed. the backlog is due to several factors. our caseload increase over 300% since 2008. in fiscal year 2008 the department received fewer than
6,000 new foia requests. but in fiscal year 2014 we received nearly 20,000. since the beginning of this fiscal year, we have already received over 15,000 new requests. second, many of these cases are increasingly complex. other national security agencies are exempt from release of some information under the foia. as a result, requesters often come only to the department to request information on any and all national security issues. the department is often the public's first and only destination for documents on these issues. these complex requests require multiple searches throughout me of our 285 missions across the globe. they involve the review of classified or highly sensitive materials and require coordination with other federal agencies.
they can generate large amounts of material that must be reviewed by state and inner agency subject matter experts across the federal government. we receive many complaints about delays. but our goal is to do everything we can to complete each request as soon as possible. secretary kerry recently reinforced our commitment to transparency in his march 25th letter to our inspector general. in that letter he recognized the work that has already been done and noted the department is acting on a number of challenges to meet its preservation and transparency obligations. the secretary asked the inspector general to ensure we are doing everything we can to improve and to recommend concrete steps that we take to do so. i am here as a department's senior foia official to assure
you that we have committed to working cooperatively with the ig with his review, and any recommendations that may follow. my testimony for the record includes information about related issues such as our foia website and the role we play in helping the public get access to information from presidential libraries libraries. again the department of state is committed to public access to information. mr. chairman, i thank the committee for the opportunity to testify today and would be pleased to address questions that you or any other member of the committee may have on foia within the state department. thank you. >> thank you. appreciate it. ms. buspustay you're recognized for five minutes. make sure the mike tonecrophone is pulled up straight. turn it on. >> good morning. good morning chairman and
ranking member cummings and members of the committee. pleased to be here today to discuss the foia and the department of justice's ongoing efforts to encourage agency compliance with the very important law. there are several areas of success that i'd like to highlight today. despite receiving continued record high numbers of foia requests and operating at the lowest staffing levels in the past six fiscal years, agencies have continued to find ways to improve their foia administration. 72 out of the 100 agencies have subject to the foia ended the fiscal year with low backlogs of fewer than 100 requests. processing nearly 650,000 requests, the government also continued to maintain a high release rate of over 91%. agencies overall also continued to improve mayor processing times. for a number of years oip encouraged agencies to focus on the simple track requests with a goal of processing the requests within an average of 20 works
days. i'm pleased to report this past fiscal year the government's overall average was 20.5 days for those simple track requests. and there's also many other achievements that simply can't be captured by statistics. agencies continue to post a wide variety of information online, in open formats, they're making discretionary releases of otherwise exempt information they're utilizing technology to help improve foia administration. the department of justice continued to work diligently throughout the year to both encourage and assist agencies in their compliance with the foia. i firmly believe it's vital that foia professionals have a complete understanding of the law's legal requirements and the many policy considerations that contribute to successful foia administration. as a result one of the primary ways my office encourages compliance is through the offering of a range of government wide training
programs and the issuance of policy guidance. if 2014 alone my office provided training to thousands of individuals on a range of topics including comprehensive guidance on the foia's proactive provisions. that included strategies for identifying frequently requested records and it also encourages agency to post records even before receipt of a single request. in accordance with the president's and attorney general's foia directives. first, in collaboration with the team at gsa we're working on a creation of a consolidated foia portal that will be added to the resources available on foia.gov. it will include additional tools to improve the customer experience. second, oi px has been working on the po tem content of a core foia regulation. we formed an inner agency task force to tack tl project. we've met with civil society
organizations to get their input and the team is hard at work drafting language for this important new initiative. we look forward to our engagement with both civil society and the agent colleagues as we work forward on that project. third in an effort to improve internal best practices we launched best practices work shops and we started there with the important topic of improving timeliness and reducing backlog. these work shops provide a unique opportunity for agencies to learn from one another. and then finally just this past march i'm very pleased that we pleated our commitment to enhance foia training by making standard e learning training resources available to all federal employees. embracing attorney general holder's message that foia is
everyone's responsibility, the new training resources target the entire spectrum of federal employees. these training resources are available to all agency personnel anywhere in the world and at no cost. they address the foia's many procedural and substantive requirements but they also emphasize the importance of good communication with requesters and good customer service. very important topics. given how important all of this is to the successful implementation of the foia, i'm very proud that oip can provide these resource to all government officials across the world. so in closing, in the face of many challenges this past fiscal year, agencies have achieved successes in many area. we certainly believe there's more work to be done and we're continually looking for way to continue the process, we're proud of what we've done so far
and we look forward to working with the committee as we jointly pursue the goal of improving access to information. thank you. >> thank you. ms. neuman you're now recognized for five minutes. >> good morning, chairman, ranking member cummings and members of the committee. i'm very pleased to be here before you today to discuss how dhs implements the freedom of information act. dhs is composed of several distinct components each with unique authorities and categories of records. our components operate their own foia offices staffed by foia professionals who respond directly to requesters seeking requests. every foia request deserves careful corporation to promote transparency while protecting the privacy of individuals and operational sensitive information. we have some significant challenges and we also have done some good things. as you know, dhs gets the largest number of foia requests of any federal agency and produces the largest number of responses.
in fact dhs received 40% of all foia requests submitted to the government in fiscal year 2014. in this 12-month period alone we received an unprecedented 291,242 requests. as a result, we also have the largest backlog. since january 2009, dhs experienced a 182% increase in its number of foia requests. at the same time, our foia professionals have significantly increased their output to meet this increased demand. in fiscal year 2014 these professionals processed 238,031 requests. the department of homeland security takes our obligation to promote transparency and further the values of open government embodied in the statute very seriously. nonetheless, we face serious
challenges to connecting requestsers to the records they seek. i'd like to briefly highlight some of the measures we've implemented to address these challenges including to reduce or backlog. the government accountability office was asked by congress to review dhs's processing of foia requests. in november 2014 gao published its report with four recommendations. we concurred with all four recommendations and are taking steps to address each one. for example, as recommended, we're in the process of finalizing our foia regulation including preparing to publish a federal register notice seeking comment. we sought assistance in developing an implementation of a policy to ensure that all dhs components are capturing foia costs consistently. i've initiated several new
measures that are designed to improve dhs foia operations in both the near term and the long term. first in january of this year i requested a top to bottom independent review of six dhs component foia offices. that review is currently under wap and is being conducted by the office of government information services. second my office is establishing a short term blanket purchase agreement for foia support services. this contract will be utilized as needed by our component offices that require additional help. my goal is here to empower the components to take quick action, to manage the backlog surges before they get out of control. third, my foia leadership team has met with colleagues in other agencies to learn about the types of records that can be made available through
technology and other ru teen procedures that are currently sought through a foia request. fourth, my office continues to look for greater efficiencies from the use of technology. we offer each component foia office the ability to use a centralized foia tracking, processing and reporting case management system with customizable features. we're also working with the dhs information officer to develop an e foia mobile application that will enable the public to submit foia requests and check the status of the requests from the smartphone or mobile device. as a result of these measures, we're starting to see a slow but steady reduction in our backlog. yesterday i learned that as of may 2015 the dha backlog was reduced by 10% to 92,066 since the beginning of the fiscal year. despite the challenges we face i'm pleased with the administrative and technological infrastructure we put in place is resulting in a trend in the right direction. we're working hard every day to provide the access under the statute and there is room for considerable improvement. i look forward to working with
you to improve foia at dhs and i welcome your recommendations and look forward to taking your questions. thank you. >> thank you. mr. fontenot. >> thank you for the opportunity to testify today on treasury's role on fostering transparency. i'm the assistant secretary of management at the department of treasury and the designated department's chief foia officer. i take compliance with foia seriously. although the nine treasury bureaus independently process the requests to each bureau, my team provides agency wide guidance and training, as well as monitoring treasury foia performance and proposing agency wide improvements. when i joined treasury six months ago, i was pleased to learn that they were implements
new measures to improve efficiency treasury wide. him and the department mental offices, my department doubled the number of full time foia employees. first we devoted time closing the oldest cases. we made significant changes to procedures and cases and timeliness. we have more work to do. but these initial measures are already producing results. for example, in fiscal year 2014 the treasury wide foia backlog decreased by 8%. we closed 13 of our oldest 20 cases, agency wide. we also processed more foia requests in less time.
treasury closed 73% of incoming cases requests within 20 days. that's a 3% increase over 2013. five of nine treasury bureaus closed more requests than they received during the fiscal year. four treasury bureaus ended the year with a zero backlog. and released more information overall. in response to 90% of cases in which responsive records were identified. in some today treasury is releasing more information processing more requests in less time and making tangible progress on reducing its pending foia inventory and closing its oldest cases compared to 18 months ago. but we also remain committed to making further strides. my team and i will continue to lean forward to drive improvements and provide as much information as we can as quickly as we can with the spirit and letter of foia. i welcome your questions today.
thank you. >> thank you. ms. howard, you're now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for having me here today. i'm mary howard and i'm the director of irs's privacy governmental liaison and disclosure operations. i'm here today to testify on the irs's policies and procedures in regarding and complying with requests for information about the freedom of information act. each year the irs processes thousands of foia requests, most of which require labor intensive searches of both paper and electronic records. despite this volume and complexity, the irs closes more than 80% of its cases in 30 business days or less. the average cycle time generally hovers right around 21 days. the irs follows a standard proceed for handling each foia request it receives. this involves analyzing the request to determine whether it can be processed under foia,
determining the scope of the request and searching for responsive records, reviewing material to decide what should be released or withheld and sending a response to the requester. over the last several years our foia operation faced a number of challenges. for example, the size of an average foia request and the volume of potentially responsive documents have mushroomed as more and more requests require serging e-mail and other electronic documents. broad requests can easily result in the irs needing to collect and redact thousands of documents in response to a single requester. another challenge involves personnel. we've managed to protect the yor all staffing of the foia process in irs, experiencing only a slight decline over the last few fiscal years, despite financial constraints and related hiring freezes. but a high turn overrate created some difficulties. replacing our foia specialists involves not only hiring new
workers but also training them to bring them up to the level to handle the complex requests. the cuts to the budget had a negative impact on the replacement hiring and the delivery of the training. the net result has been a gradual loss in the expertise in the foia area at irs over the past several years. the problem is expected to get worse. we estimate that more than 60% of our foia professionals will be eligible to retire over the next five years. another critical aspect of the irs's ability to adequately respond to foia requests involves the management of official records. here too the irs faces significant challenges. this is largely because we don't have systems that allow us to search and retrieve electronic cases and e-mails. we're also unable to categorize, label and centrally store electronic records including e-mail. i hope you'll ask me some
questions so i can give you more insight into that. without this capability we must conduct an account by account search for document to comply with the foia request. this is a tedious time-consuming process. additional funding would allow us to upgrade our infrastructure platforms. we could then respond to very large document requests far more quickly than we're able to now. let me turn now to the events of 2013, beginning that summer the irs was faced with an unprecedented number of foia requests related to the processing of applications for the 013 c 4. at the same time, four congressional committees, the treasury inspector general and
the department of justice were all requesting large amounts of documents from irs on the same issues. the irs created a special team to review and produce documents responsive to the six official investigations. the team redacted the comets required by 6103 of the internal revenue code to ensure that federal tax information was prosected appropriately. because of this experience on conducting reviews and producing documents for litigation, the irs office of chief counsel performed the 6103 reviews and the document production. that was required for all of the requested documents expect those going to the tax writing committees. while counsel was conducting this effort, disclosure staff was addressing and responding to their regular foia case work that flows in at a rate of 10 to
12,000 cases per year. the irs determined that responding to the investigations would take precedent over responding to the request for information under foia. and the irs produced to congress more than 1 million pages of documents for those investigations. given that all of the foia documents need that 6103 review, we waited until we had fulfilled the request of the investigators until we went forward. of the 154 cases i mentioned, 34 remain pending with the dpis disclosure process. we regret that the process has taken this long but we felt there is no other way that we could respond appropriately to congress and the investigators. the irs remains committed to foia as we work through these challenges. this concludes my statement and i look forward to responding to your questions. >> thank you i'll now recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. robert for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you for the hearings of the past couple of
days. as i've contemplated on what we've heard in the last two days, i'm just absolutely convinced that foia really isn't the problem. it's just an evidence within an outcome of the problem. increasing size of government and the criminal of government is the problem. i mean it's an absolute fact that we have amongst the highest paid bureaucratsed a smin tering these programs in government anywhere in world. we have the highest technology at least amongst the highest technology of any place in the world to administer our bureaucracy. we have the largest number of bureaucrats in the world to administer our bureaucracy. and with the s